Reclaim our Courts
For years, lawmakers hostile to our reproductive rights have been filling the courts with judges who look — and think — like them. It’s time to reclaim the federal courts to secure rights, opportunities, and reproductive freedoms for all of us.
Section 1: The Issue
80% of Americans support safe, legal abortion.
Yet, in 2021 politicians have enacted state-level abortion restrictions and bans at a record-setting pace.
Why don't the laws reflect the will of the people? Because these politicians are emboldened by courts that they believe are on their side.
The courts are meant to protect the people from unconstitutional laws. But under the last administration, the courts changed dramatically.
Section 2: The Courts
With the help of Senator Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump appointed more federal judges in a four year term than any president in recent history.
(How did they do it, you ask? By rigging the system that was in place for decades.)
The Senate must give its "advice and consent" before a president's nominee can become a judge. For President Obama's judicial nominees, Mitch McConnell ground Senate confirmation votes to a halt — leaving more than 100 seats empty for the next president to fill. When President Trump took office, the Senate started working overtime to confirm his picks.
Under McConnell’s leadership, the Senate worked quickly by sidestepping key rules, including but not limited to:
- Confirming appeals court nominees without home state senators' approval
- Reducing debate time for appeals court nominees from 30 hours to 2
- Overlooking unqualified ratings from the non-partisan American Bar Association
Federal judges confirmed in the first term*
*under Article III of the Constitution
Article III of the Constitution governs the appointment, tenure, and payment of Supreme Court justices, and federal circuit and district judges. These judges, often referred to as “Article III judges,” are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
You can see Trump’s impact on the Supreme Court...
But the damage you may not have heard about is in the courts of appeals.
While the Supreme Court is asked to review 6,000-8,000 cases a year, it hears only about 60-80 cases. That means that the decisions made by circuit courts are the last word in many more cases — about 48,000 each year.
More cases that challenge abortion restrictions will be decided by judges in these lower courts — not the Supreme Court.
Nearly 1 in 3 judges in the Courts of Appeals is now a President Trump pick.
Trump’s judicial appointments were disproportionately:
- Hostile towards reproductive health and rights
Meanwhile, people disproportionately affected by abortion restrictions are:
Remember, people's identities are complex. The impact is even greater for those living at the intersection of multiple identities.
- People of color
- People with low incomes
How does all this affect you?
Section 4: Reclaiming our courts
You have the power to change this. It’s time to make the courts work for the people.
The United States is diverse. Our lived experiences are vast and complex. And we deserve a future free from politicians and judges interfering with our ability to make decisions over our bodies.
With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House and narrow majorities in Congress, we have an urgent opportunity to fill court vacancies with diverse champions of reproductive health and rights.
Here’s what we need to do now:
Reclaim the courts with judges who will protect reproductive rights, including abortion.
Confirm judicial nominees who reflect the diversity and progressive values of our nation.
Impose ethics and transparency requirements for Supreme Court Justices.
While all other federal judges are required to follow a code of ethics, Supreme Court justices are not. We must improve disclosure requirements and ethical standards for justices.
There are dozens of vacancies in the federal courts, and the time to speak up is now.
Using your voice is powerful
Whether you're old or young, a public official or a private citizen, you can make a change.
Section 5: Take action
Join the fight to reclaim our courts.
We know — the challenge we face now can feel intimidating. But take power in knowing you’ve got a movement behind you — one that’s 17-million people strong — with Planned Parenthood.